Upcoming Skills Gap in United Arab Emirates Requires Workforce Planning and Education Reforms

Effective workforce planning and education reforms in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will help the seven emirates address an upcoming skills gap in their labor market. The Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) expects 40% of current jobs to disappear from the market over the next decade.

The decline of current jobs will impact the labor market across the range of all seven states within the UAE:

  1. Abu Dhabi (the capital of the UAE)
  2. Ajman
  3. Dubai
  4. Fujairah
  5. Ras Al Khaimah
  6. Sharjah
  7. Umm Al Qalwain

Fourth Industrial Revolution Helps Create Upcoming Skills Gap

All of the emirates are experiencing the effects of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.” This revolution reflects the velocity, scope, and systems impact of a digital transformation that is changing economies, jobs, and work as it is currently known. Characteristics of the revolution include a fusion of technologies across the physical, digital, and biological spheres. As a result, the revolution impacts many areas, including:

As a result, many current jobs will disappear in the future, and employees are facing an upcoming skills gap. New jobs will appear that require skills applicable to the digital revolution’s needs.

How is UAE Planning for the Upcoming Skills Gap?

KHDA recognizes that new jobs will emerge in the labor markets, and these jobs will require technical skills. As a result, KHDA notes that a 10-year visionary planning effort must be undertaken to find solutions. KHDA believes these solutions will be found in several areas, including increasing family involvement, understanding the growing economy’s job requirements, and identifying future opportunities.

A strategy shift to address the upcoming skills gap will also require changing the education system. This change will equip residents with the appropriate technical skills that will enable them to successfully obtain new jobs in the future. As the KHDA recognizes what needs to be done, the organization and other UAE entities note the need to focus on education as well as practical, working-knowledge skills. Ideas in the planning stage include using the final year of education for internships and assignments at companies.

What does this mean?

The UAE recognizes that the digital revolution will create new job requirements. They also recognize at the same time that current jobs will disappear. This creates a need for appropriate planning to address the upcoming skills gap. Additionally, emirates growing at exceptional rates such as Dubai may have a surplus of jobs that require new technical skills. This surplus of jobs may require transferees from outside the emirates to relocate to the region in order to sustain economic growth.

What should employers expect?

Employers in the UAE should expect that current jobs may decline and employees may face an upcoming skills gap. Employers should also expect a rise in the need for new jobs that require new and extensive technical skills to meet the needs of the digital revolution.

What should employers do?

Employers in the UAE should review their company’s growth plans and requirements for jobs across all levels of skill sets. They should also determine how their company’s growth plans will impact the jobs required to meet business plans and goals. Employers should consider how they can address current employees who may face the upcoming skills gap. They should focus on training, education, and retaining employees who have valuable company experience and talent. Also, employers should review their relocation programs to determine how to present their company’s opportunities in the best light to attract highly skilled new hires and transferees.


GMS’ team of global relocation experts has helped thousands of our clients develop relocation programs that attract and retain qualified employees across the world. Our team can help your company determine how to plan for the UAE’s upcoming skills gap and its impact on employees, new hires, and transferees.

Learn best practices from Global Mobility Solutions, the relocation industry and technology experts who are dedicated to keeping you informed and connected. Contact our experts online to discuss your company’s relocation program needs, or give us a call at 800.617.1904 or 480.922.0700 today.

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